What to look for: NC State Wolfpack

C.J. Leslie

As Michigan gets set to host 18th ranked North Carolina State at Crisler Center tonight at 7:30, here's what you can expect to see when both teams take the floor for the B1G/ACC Challenge.

Season Overview

#18 North Carolina State (Preseason #6)
Record: (4-1)
Wins: Miami (OH), Penn State, Massachusetts, UNC Asheville
Losses: #21 Oklahoma State

Versatile starting five

PG #0 Rodney Purvis- Just a freshman but doesn't play like one, Purvis has tremendous size and length at 6'3 that will be a good test for Trey Burke with NBA scouts looking on wondering how he'll handle playing against bigger opponents on both ends of the floor. Purvis isn't a twig, a solidly built frame allows him to use his body to get to the rack putting a lot of pressure on the defense especially if someone has to step in on help side. Only averaging 3 assists per, Purvis is shooting 10 for 17 from downtown (59%) and coming off his worst performance of the season after being held to just 2 points in a close win over UNC Asheville.

SG #2 Lorenzo Brown- It will be interesting to see who matches up with Brown to start the game but if I had to guess I would say Hardaway Jr. gets first crack at the 6'5 slasher. Brown is shooting 1 for 9 from the outside so far but does his damage in the paint leading his team with 31 free throw attempts while hitting 24 so far (77%). Brown isn't shooting the ball well from the field either, just 35% but has a propensity for setting up his teammates to lead the team in assists at just over 5 per contest.

SF #15 Scott Wood- This is NC State's Nik Stauskas of the crew. Wood has really nice size (6'6) and can flat out stroke it from three-point range leading the team with 13 makes on 29 tries (45%) through five games. For this reason I expect Vogrich to give up some size and get the nod against Wood since hes most dangerous out on the perimeter as opposed to attacking the rim. Although Wood will have a height advantage, rebounding isn't exactly his forte (2.8 rpg).

F #5 C.J. Leslie- Leslie dabbles in a little bit of everything for NC State and is very effective in doing so averaging 10.8 points per game, 7 rebounds per game and leads the team in blocked shots. The pre-season player of the year in the ACC is going to be a handful, and because of that added athleticism Glenn Robinson should get the nod defensively despite a notable size advantage (6'6-ish vs. a thin 6'9), Leslie is going to look to attack the basket and has been very efficient so far this season shooting 53% from the floor (has attempted just 1 three ball) but has struggled at the line just 12-21 (57%).

C #1 Richard Howell- Howell has Jordan Morgan written all over him. Similar size and body frame although Howell has a greater skill set as far as being able to dribble up and down the floor or even set his teammates up for easy buckets. Howell's greatest asset is his ability to impact the game inside and is leading his team in rebounding with 8.4 per game including almost 3 offensive rebounds. Offensively, Howell is a true inside guy that has a knack for putting the ball in the bucket. Howell is shooting a very efficient 28 for 39 from the floor (72%!) and gets to the free throw line despite shooting just 59% (17 for 29). Morgan will have to keep Howell off the glass and despite his consistent urges, avoid foul trouble early.

X Factor off the bench

F #24 T.J. Warren- Warren very well could be a starter on a lot of other teams but for NC State the freshman is a 6th man and a very effective one at that. Warren averages 26.2 minutes per game, which is actually more than Howell and actually leads the team in scoring at 14.8 per game. Warren takes advantage of the extra minutes and could make the case of being the Wolfpack's most consistent performer shooting 32 for 47 (68%) from the field including 3 for 6 from downtown while also averaging nearly 4 rebounds a game. At 6'8, Warren is going to be a tough guard with his combination of size and athleticism, but the Wolverines should be very familiar with his game based on the fact that fellow freshman, Mitch McGary, played with him at Brewster Academy a year ago.

Keys for Michigan

1. Rebounding- NC State averages 38.2 rebounds per game compared to Michigan's 41.6 but throw those numbers out the window in this one. The Wolverines just have to get the job done on the glass given the Wolfpack's size and length.
2. Limit easy baskets- Rebounding will play a key part in this but its clear NC State likes to get out in the open floor, use their quickness and finish a few easy ones in transition. Michigan has the ability to do the same in the open floor, but the way the Wolverines are playing defense in the half court it's imperative for Beilein and company to maintain control of the game and win their one on one battles defensively as well as offensively.
3. Keep NC State out of the paint- Penetration is the engine that runs this NC State team and will be very important to not let it happen. With Leslie and Howell, or even Warren inside, if the big's are forced to step-up in help defense Brown has shown the ability to find the open man and as a team NC State averages 13.4 assists per game.

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